Formations Summary

January–April 2022

Unit 1: Tell the Good News

Wayne Ballard

In this unit, we will explore a combination of Old and New Testament texts focusing on the good news of the reign of God and the salvation God brings. The first lesson focuses on an early Christian hymn affirming Jesus’ power. In the second, Paul states that the Christian life is lived by faith. Lesson three focuses on the messengers of good news, while the fourth focuses on praise for God and God’s reign. Finally, we will consider the promise of the return of Jesus and the need to remain diligent in this interim time. Throughout, we are encouraged to look eagerly for the Lord’s return while dealing with the pressing matters of everyday life.

Unit 2: Noah and the Flood

Danny Chisholm

This unit is an exploration of the flood story found in the book of Genesis. Even those who have little exposure to the Bible have heard about the great flood, the wooden vessel, and the family and creatures inside. Throughout this unit, we will consider the gravity of human sinfulness and God’s protection and provision during the flood. We will also ponder where hope can be found in our world. Noah and his family survived the storm but must have wondered what they would face when they left the ark. Revisiting this familiar story will challenge us to examine our own view of God and how that perspective influences our lives today.

Unit 3: Face to Face with Jesus

Alicia Davis Porterfield

These sessions explore four of Jesus’ face-to-face encounters with individuals or crowds. In John 3, we meet Nicodemus, a Pharisee who comes to Jesus by night to learn more about him. Next, we learn about members of a crowd who ask for the “bread of life.” In John 8, an adulteress who is dragged into the religious authorities’ scheme to discredit and arrest Jesus. Finally, we encounter the man born blind, whom Jesus heals both physically and spiritually. In every scene, we see how Jesus brings change, challenge, and grace. No one who encounters him walks away without being touched. And thankfully, neither do we.

Unit 4: The Joy of Easter

Rickey Letson

The Gospel is John is unique from the other Gospels in that it is theological as well as biographical, and because it tells stories and shares sayings not found in the other three. These unique elements will be on full display in the four lessons of this unit as we explore Jesus’ miraculous raising of Lazarus, his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the morning of his resurrection, and Thomas’s exclamation of faith, “My Lord and my God!” With careful study, we will understand the familiar stories of the Lenten and Easter season in a new, helpful, and transformative way.

May–August 2022

Unit 1: Worship that Pleases God

Nikki Finkelstein-Blair

The Hebrew Bible includes many instructions for worship. However, the New Testament reveals few details about specifically where, when, how, or with what early Christians worshiped God. What the New Testament does teach on this subject is exhibited through faithful example. Through five passages, we will explore some of these examples, including Jesus selflessly serving and then setting boundaries, a parable of prayer and pride, and churches gathering for worship to help them face society’s challenges. We will also study Paul’s teachings on discernment and deference in worship and how pastoral liturgy and prophetic vision honor God. In the end, we will see how worship that pleases God is what we do every day of our lives: seek God’s presence, practice wonder, encourage each other, and express praise.

Unit 2: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

Joseph LaGuardia

This unit explores the fullness of God as the Trinity, the mystery that God is Three-Persons-in-One. The first lesson, appropriate for Pentecost, will explore the role and presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church. Lesson two will communicates the unity of God the Father and God the Son, challenging us to belong, believe, and behave as God’s people. Lesson three will express our inclusion in the family of God, being baptized “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” while inviting others to become a part of God’s family. Finally, lesson four will encourage us to live into the reality that, in God, we share in this divine nature. The relationship that God shares in the context of the Trinity envelops us in a relationship that incorporates worship, discipleship, and the Great Commission.

Unit 3: Jacob’s Sons

Chris O’Rear

The stories of the patriarchs and matriarchs of our faith contain some of the more challenging details to understand or apply to our lives. These are passages that preachers often ignore or avoid in Bible studies. If we are to be true students of the Bible and faithful followers of Jesus, however, we need to wrestle with these passages to discern what eternal truths they may contain. Over five weeks, we will look at lessons about the children of Jacob. Some of these stories involve abuse perpetrated by powerful men, sexual details, and even rape. They are difficult to read and may be more difficult for some to discuss because of their own experiences. But the stories are enshrined in Scripture for a purpose. In these lessons, we’ll try to discern the truths that are conveyed without glossing over their unpleasant details.

Unit 4: Wisdom Divine and Human

Paul Mullen, Gina Brock

The Corinthian believers lived in a tension between the wisdom of God and the ways of the world. They often chose the self-centeredness of worldly wisdom, which led to an array of problems. Through this unit, we will explore some such problems, and try to discern both how they impacted the Corinthians and how they can affect us too. Because God’s wisdom challenges our human ways of thinking, we will particularly look at how humility and selflessness are viewed by humanity. We will also examine how human stubbornness can make arguments and conflicts in the church worse, and seek ways to resolve such conflicts. May we challenge ourselves and encourage each other to discern and apply God’s wisdom to our lives.